Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas
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Alternative Measures of Urban Form in U.S. Metropolitan Areas. Stephen Malpezzi Wen-Kai Guo University of Wisconsin-Madison. What is sprawl?. Most writers and activists fail to define sprawl. Some elements of a definition might include: Low density Discontiguous (“leapfrog”) development

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Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Alternative Measures of Urban Form in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

Stephen Malpezzi

Wen-Kai Guo

University of Wisconsin-Madison


What is sprawl

What is sprawl?

  • Most writers and activists fail to define sprawl. Some elements of a definition might include:

    • Low density

    • Discontiguous (“leapfrog”) development

    • Lack of public open space

  • Other outcomes that may or may not be associated with sprawl include:

    • High auto use, low transit use

    • Differences in the cost of public services

    • Excessive loss of farmland


Overall plan for malpezzi and guo

Overall Plan for Malpezzi and Guo

  • Estimate a number of candidate measures of urban form

    • MSA specific indexes, based on Census tract data

  • Which incorporate the ‘most information’ about form?

    • Regress each index against other indexes, examine fit and t-statistics

  • Which are reasonably related to determinants?

    • Regress each index against a reasonable set of determinants

  • Link to second paper: take the best index, and run with it.


Candidate indexes

Candidate Indexes

  • Average MSA density

  • Sort tracts by their density. Pick density of tract containing the “median person.”

    • Many variations on this theme.

  • Estimate exponential density models

    • Univariate: intercept as well as delta, compare to flexible forms. Incorporate measures of fit.

  • Measures of dispersion

    • Gini, Theil indexes

  • Weighted average distances

    • to center; to all tracts

  • Gravity measures

  • Spatial autocorrelation


Selected previous research

Selected Previous Research

  • A number of ‘sprawl’ papers examine average metropolitan density (Brueckner and Fansler, Peiser)

  • Many papers examine population density gradients, and related measures (Mills, Muth, etc., see McDonald review)

  • Compare and evaluate alternative measures

    • A fair number evaluate, e.g., power terms, test SUE model against a flexible alternative (e.g. Kau and Lee)

    • Only a few examine a fair range of alternatives (e.g. Song)


Sprawl related issues

Sprawl, Related Issues

  • Bertaud and Malpezzi demonstrate that, in fact, cities like Paris and Los Angeles have much more efficient form than Seoul or Moscow, or Johannesburg.

  • What are the specific costs of sprawl which give rise to this concern? Are there benefits to “sprawl?” What are the most efficient policy responses?

    • E. Mills and B. Song, Urbanization and Urban Problems. Harvard, 1979.

    • G. Ingram, Land in Perspective. In Cullen and Woolrey, World Congress on Land Policy, DC Heath, 1982

    • A. Bertaud and S. Malpezzi, The Spatial Distribution of Population in 35 World Cities


Measuring sprawl

Measuring Sprawl

  • Since sprawl is hard to define, it’s not surprising few papers have tried to measure it.

  • Many papers rely on average population density in the metro area.

  • Our usual density gradients

    • including power terms, R-squared

  • Moments of tract density

  • Gini coefficients, Theil information measures

  • Distance/gravity measures

  • Techniques of measuring spatial autocorrelation

  • Data reduction (principal components?)


Measuring sprawl1

Measuring Sprawl

  • Our initial measure will rely on tract densities within MSAs.

  • Sort each MSA’s census tracts by density, lowest to highest. Use the density of the tract containing the 10th percentile of MSA population, when tracts are so ordered.

    • Can use other percentiles (median, quartiles, etc.)

    • A better measure of density at the fringe.

    • Pros and cons?

  • Under development: average lot size for a “new” single family house, from AHS


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Example of a measure based on order statistics: the average density of the tract containing the median of the MA population, when tracts are ranked by density.

Our MA has 7 tracts, total pop. is 100. Where is person 50?


The measure we focus on today

The measure we focus on today.

  • The average density of the tract containing the 10th percentile of the metropolitan area’s population, when tracts are ranked by density. Say it 10 times, fast.

  • Pros:

    • Distinguishes between MAs with a lot of open space, and those without.

    • Gets at density on “the margin” without a particular assumption about monocentricity.

  • Cons:

    • There’s no guarantee that this “fringe” tract is really on the fringe.

    • The usual issues with using “gross” tract densities.


Costs and benefits of sprawl the pure cost view

Costs and Benefits of Sprawl: The “Pure Cost” View

$

Costs per housing unit fall with density

Maximum feasible density, under

current rules and practices

Density of Development

Figure 1


Costs and benefits of sprawl the cost benefit view

Costs and Benefits of Sprawl: The Cost-Benefit View

$

Costs fall with density

Willingness-to-pay first rises, then

falls, with density

Maximum feasible density

Density of Development

Maximize

Benefit-Cost

Figure 2


Costs and benefits of sprawl the cost benefit view with externalities

Costs and Benefits of Sprawl: The Cost-Benefit View, with Externalities

Social costs (= private costs + external cost)

$

Private costs

Willingness-to-pay

Maximum feasible density

Density of Development

Maximize

Private

Benefit-Cost

Maximize

Social

Benefit-Cost

Figure 3


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 1-A


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 1-B


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 2


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 3


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 4


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 4


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 5


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 6


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 8


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 9


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 10


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 11


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 12


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 13


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 14 (Preliminary)


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 15


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 16


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 6


Alternative measures of urban form in u s metropolitan areas

Figure 7


Nine causes of sprawl richard k green

Nine Causes of Sprawl (Richard K. Green)

  • Rent gradient

  • Demographics

  • Growing affluence

  • Transportation changes

  • Government service differentials

  • Racial discrimination and segregation

  • Plattage and plottage

  • Tax policy

  • Land use regulation


More causes of sprawl

More causes of sprawl

  • Economic structure

  • The degree of monocentricity

  • Opportunity cost of land in rural uses


Some opinions

Some Opinions

  • American Farmland Trust, Farming on the Edge

  • Bank of America et al., Beyond Sprawl

  • Al Gore, several recent speeches

  • Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson, “Are Compact Cities a Desirable Planning Goal?”

  • Reid Ewing, “Is Los Angeles Style Sprawl Desirable?”

  • John Norquist, The Wealth of Cities

  • Richard Moe, Growing Smarter

  • Many more, type “sprawl” into your browser and stand back.


Some literature

Some Literature

  • Real Estate Research Corporation, The Costs of Sprawl (1974)

  • Critiques of RERC by Altshuler (1977) and Windsor (1979)

  • Downs, New Visions for a Metropolitan America

  • Helen Ladd, “Population Growth, Density, and the Costs of Providing Public Services” (1992)

  • David Mills (1981)

  • Richard Peiser (1989)

  • Brueckner and Fansler (1983)

  • Burchell and Listokin, others at Rutgers, on “fiscal impact analysis” (various), The Costs of Sprawl Revisited (1998)


Highly tentative conclusions

Highly Tentative Conclusions

  • Transit infrastructure has little effect on density per se.

  • More mass transit is associated with longer commutes.

  • Higher densities lower commutes, ceteris paribus.

  • Will these results hold up to further work?


Some next steps

Some Next Steps

  • Alternative sprawl measures (e.g. AHS new housing density)

  • Better measures of transit infrastructure

  • Model other outcomes that reflect potential costs and benefits of sprawl

    • environmental outcomes

    • public service costs

    • racial and economic segregation

  • Endogeneity, endogeneity, endogeneity


Percent of metro population and employment in central cities

Percent of Metro Population and Employment in Central Cities

Source: O’Sullivan, Kain, Census


Why do we observe decentralization

Why Do We Observe Decentralization?

  • Standard Urban Economics (SUE) model: rising incomes, falling transport costs

  • “Blight Flight” or Amenities/disamenities models

  • Public policies

  • Change in technology, shift to service economy, incubator processes?


The u s is well endowed with land

The U.S. is Well-Endowed with Land

  • The U.S. has 7% of the world’s land area.

  • But 13% of the world’s cropland is in the U.S.

  • The U.S. has roughly 10 acres of land for every inhabitant.


Population density selected countries

Population Density, Selected Countries


U s population if settled at other countries densities

U.S. Population if settled at other countries’ densities


How u s urban land is used 1980

How U.S. Urban Land is Used, 1980

Source: Vesterby and Heimlich, 1991


U s land use

U.S. Land Use

  • Urban land is 3 percent of U.S. land by area, but the majority of land by value.

  • With about 4 hectares of land per person (gross), the U.S. is far from typical in density.

  • However, even very dense countries, like Korea, have small percentages of land in urban uses (see below).


U s cropland and urban land area

U.S. Cropland and Urban Land Area

Figure A-2

USDA, Census


U s cropland and urban land area1

U.S. Cropland and Urban Land Area

  • While the share of U.S. land in urban uses has been growing (from a low base), cropland has been roughly constant over the last 40 years.

  • When relative prices warrant it, land can readily be converted from other uses to agriculture.


Some big picture land use questions indicative only not exhaustive

Some Big-Picture Land Use Questions (Indicative Only, Not Exhaustive)

  • Can we reconcile market approaches with social and ethical concerns?

    • Why have many economists focused so much on costs of regulation, not on benefits?

    • Why have many noneconomists neglected costs?

  • How can we get a better handle on the real social cost-benefit of different land uses?

    • Just because something’s hard to measure doesn’t mean it isn’t important

  • Can we focus more rigorously on distributional issues (as well as efficiency)?


More land use questions

More Land Use Questions

  • What’s the right system of incentives (taxes, subsidies, regulations, etc.)?

    • Lower order: for market participants?

    • Higher order: for planners and policymakers?

  • Urban decentralization (“sprawl”) is high on the public agenda. What can we say about costs and benefits, and appropriate responses?

  • Many other important land use issues, e.g.

    • Brownfields

    • Preservation

    • Central city/suburban/rural issues


Some general things to look for in a cluster hire in land use

Some General Things to Look for in a Cluster Hire in Land Use

  • Rigor

  • Open-mindedness

  • Some appreciation of the economics of land use (formal or informal)

  • Good institutional knowledge as well as technical training

  • Interest in urban and rural land use issues

  • Understanding related markets (e.g. transportation) would be a plus


Some objectives for a potential hire in land economics

Some objectives for a potential hire in land economics

  • Put the “sprawl” debate on a more rigorous footing: better definition and measurement, cost and benefits, determinants, policy recommendations

  • Enhance understanding of interactions among land use, general economic development, transport, real estate

  • What are the costs and benefits of different development patterns, of different public interventions?

  • How do land uses affect income distribution, racial and ethnic cleavages

  • Needs a strong economics background with demonstrated ability to work with noneconomists; knowledge of planning, law, institutions a plus

  • International as well as U.S. perspectives a plus


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